DE Meeting Minutes
Saturday, March 2, 2019 • Photos by Julie Smith and Allan Wicker
Meeting Open 11:30 a.m.
Regrets Jerry Dupree, Deb & Steve Marschke, Mal & Jean Roode
Attending Neal & Marian Johns, Terry Ogden, Allan Wicker, Jean & Sunny Hansen, Daniel Dick & Bobbie Sanchez, Ruth & Emmett Harder, Bill & Julie Smith, Nelson Miller, Axel Heller, Steve Richards & Esther.
Previous Minutes Approved
Treasurer Bill Smith reported we have 10 recent new members, current funds are 5,189.94 including checking, savings and PayPal accounts. Rondy signups at this time are 48 participants, 27 vehicles plus some promised in the mail. The river trip and the venue have both been paid. Rondy funds are currently $339 to the good. Nelson would like to close out the Walking Box tour so any extra spaces can be made available to the presenter.
Newsletter Jay Lawrence reported everything is great in newsletterland, we ALWAYS need new and more material, please send what ya got.
Rondy Mignon has done everything to a fare-thee-well. The trips are in place, Walking Box tour has 12 of 20 possible signups. Reminded that March 5th is the deadline for DE motel discount. Speaker Peter Mays will talk on the history of the dam and Boulder City. The Elks have RV camping spots if you are a member. There are local mountain bike trails, zip lines, train, helicopter, and plane rides to the dam and Grand Canyon.
Website Kudos to Deb Miller-Marschke and Crazy Suzy for making us look good on the interwebs. The site is terrific and everybody had compliments to share.
Museum Nelson reported we had a great work crew weekend. The Cambridge collection came, three new cases were placed, and the Moon Dolls were spiffed up. The HUGE collection of East Mojave topographic maps were inventoried. Nelson would be there on Wednesdays or Thursdays to supervise cataloging the map collection. In related news, Friends of Calico is collapsing and would like
MRVM to take over. All agreed we should make the work party an ongoing annual event. Nelson declared that the museum had the best collection of desert books available anywhere, so look there first! MRVM published books are available now online. The Death Valley 49ers have been struggling and turned over their books to the museum. Several folks mentioned the Desert Dictionary as a great reference book to own. MRVM elections are coming up in March and the 2019 BBQ is being discussed. No details were available at the moment. Nelson recommended that we all watch the MRVM calendar for the next lecture by Mike Boltinghous. His first one was terrific. A short sidebar covered whether or not the MRVM insurance covered leaders or any other aspect of the Desert Explorers. The answer was no, it only covers museum operating museum equipment.
Trips More! We always need more! Jerry Dupree and Bob Jacoby will be more aggressive looking for trips in the next few months. Nelson Miller, who has led a huge amount of trips in the last few years will be traveling from June through September, so others will need to step up with trips through the summer. Ron Lipari is leading an Eastern Sierra trip this summer, details are in the newsletter trip calendar. Axel Heller and Bob Jacoby are leading their Route 66 trip. The dates have changed, so check the trip calendar for details. Bill Powell will be leading a trip on the Applegate Trail. There will be a fall trip on the Arizona Peace Trail. Probably October. Look for details in the upcoming newsletters.
New Business Discussion included: • Talk to attendees at the Rondy about becoming trip leaders and leading new trips with experienced leader help.
Next Meeting Ding and Allan Wicker’s house on May 18th, 11:00
Christmas Party Ding and Allan Wicker’s house on December 14th
Adjourned 12:56 p.m.
“Oh Be Joyful”
By Bob Jaussaud
An unofﬁcial group of Desert Explorers got together in March for a Death Valley trip. Our goal was to make the challenging hike into Lemoigne Canyon and see what remains of Jean Lemoigne’s campthere. In preparation for our trip, Glenn Shaw wrote a pamphlet about the history relating to our “Oh Be Joyful” Event. Thank you Glenn. Historically “Oh Be Joyful” is antiquated American Civil War slang for whiskey, especially the homemade variety.
Vicki Hill, Dave McFarland, Ron Lipari, Mignon Slentz, plus Sue and I gathered at Death Valley Junction. Our ﬁrst event was a relatively easy hike into a lesser known mine Ron Lipari had discovered on U tube. Next, we visited the newly reopened Keane Wonder Mine. Then it was on to Carrara to locate some unique artwork in the nearby abandoned cement plant, especially a piece done by Mignon’s daughter, Sierra.
After ﬁlling our gas tanks at Beatty we caravanned to Rhyolite. The museum there has some truly unique artwork scattered around. From Rhyolite, we wandered into the Bullfrog Hills to look for an evening camp. We lucked onto a beautiful spot and Ron ﬁxed one of his gourmet camp meals for everyone.
Next morning we found the Lucky Jack Mine ruins, then went back into Beatty to relax and visit their Museum. If you have never visited the Beatty Museum, it should be on your bucket list. That afternoon we met Glenn at Stovepipe Wells. Glenn led us over a really rough road to the mouth of Lemoigne Canyon where we camped for the evening. Jean Lemoigne was an early Death Valley miner. He came from France in the 1870’s and resided in and around Death Valley for more than 40 years, ﬁling on lead and silver claims in Lemoigne Canyon and in the Skidoo area. Lemoigne was an educated man and an interesting fellow. He is reputed to have hit it big at one time and used those funds to build a mansion near Garlic Springs that he became frustrated with and blew up. He died in 1919 and his grave is in Death Valley not far from Salt Creek.
The hike into Lemoigne’s cabin the next morning was very successful but thoroughly wore us all out.We parted ways for home after we got back to the vehicles and 4 wheeled to pavement. We had surely enjoyed our “Oh Be Joyful” event. ~Bob
Super Bloom 2019
By Marian Johns
Recently I’ve been hearing about the super bloom of poppies down along I-15 near Lake Elsinore and remembered another time several years ago when there was another springtime bloom down there near the Lake Street off ramp that had been quite impressive. Well, it’s not far, so I loaded up Neal in the car and off we went. I was expecting a show like the previous one, but was I was totally unprepared for this year’s spectacular show! There weren’t just poppies around Lake Street; there were miles of hillsides covered with poppies all along I-15.
We went on a Tuesday because I figured there wouldn’t be so many like-minded folks, but I was certainly wrong about that. There were people everywhere stopped along the frontage road. I even met some tourists from Argentina taking photos like everyone else. And when we finally reached Lake Street, we found an incredible number of cars and people everywhere – causing a major traffic jam. I’ve heard since that the city is now charging to park and also charging per person.
Sunny and Jean Hansen had told me about the nice flowers along the southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park and I had also heard the flowers were nice in Anza Borrego, so instead of returning on home, we continued on to Temecula and took Highway 79 south. It’s been years since I’ve been this way and I unexpectedly passed Ricardo Breceda’s place. He’s the fellow who has made all of the sculptures in Borrego Springs. If you have ever been to Borrego Springs, you have probably seen some of his work. Of course I had to stop and let me tell you, his home has an incredible number of similar creations, all for sale. I think he said he had some 400 out in his display.
The flowers we saw in Anza Borrego were just so-so, but I had fun discovering some new sculptures, a huge scorpion facing off with a giant cricket and a huge dragon-snake creature that slithers in and out of the sand.
That night we got a motel room in Ocotillo Wells (no vacancies in Borrego Springs) and in the morning headed to Joshua Tree N.P. Sunny and Jean were right, the flowers were lovely and I must have spent two or three hours taking photos along the highway. After taking umpteen pictures along the southern entrance to the park, we drove all the way through the park and then turned west on Highway 62 in Twentynine Palms and headed home.
It’s hard to describe how uplifting those two days were. It’s good to be alive! Next week I’m hoping to spend a couple of days seeing wildflowers in Antelope Valley and Carrizo Plains. ~ Marian
Arrowhead Trail / U.S. 91 and Afton Canyon
Leader: Nelson Miller
Photos by Allan Wicker
Seven vehicles set out on this trip with Nelson Miller, David Mott, Dave Burdick, Mark Mejia, Dean Lindner, Allan & Ding Wicker, David & Lois Hess, Sunny & Jean Hansen, Bob Jacoby, Rich Brazier, Chris Parker, Steve Richards and his friend Esther. Thank you to Allan and Ding Wicker for running sweep!
Before starting our trip we reviewed some of the geographical history of the Mojave River, Pleistocene Lake Mannix, Lake Mojave, and the cutting of Afton Canyon about 14,000 years ago.
We started off from the Field Road Off-ramp following the 1932 route of old U.S. 91, the precursor to I-15. The Arrowhead Trail preceded this in 1925 with a slightly different route located to the north of present day I-15, whereas this portion of U.S. 91 was located south of present day I-15. First stops were the “Double Circle” Intaglio and the “Candy Cane” Intaglio (or geoglyphs). Bill Mann included these in his Volume 1. These two geoglyphs probably date from when the Mojave Tribe occupied this area of the Mojave Desert, so are at least over 300 years old and could be much older. We drove around the back side of the C.V. Kane Rest Stop, which is located at the site of Midway (midway between Barstow and Baker) where there was a gas station, garage, and café until the I-15 realignment in the 1960’s. During the 1950’s there was also a small zoo, called “The Thing.” We also passed by Dunn, a former watering stop for the steam engines and where borate was shipped by wagon from Death Valley and Tecopa area until the railroad was extended to those areas in the early 1900’s.. We followed old U.S. 91 to the Afton Canyon offramp. Old U. S. 91 merges with present day I-15 just a little east of here.
At Afton Canyon offramp, we headed for the campground where we stopped for a break, while some of us scouted the ford of the Mojave River. Water level was pretty high and there was a line of about 20 vehicles waiting for someone to be brave enough to go through. Finally a jacked-up Jeep came up and blasted through the ford. He made it all the way across although he slipped a bit. However, his buddy tried a go-around and got stuck in the mud. We decided to go back to the freeway and take the back door into Afton Canyon from Basin Road. So, we headed back to the freeway, exited at Basin Road, and followed Basin Road until it joined the Mojave Road, which we followed into Afton Canyon. We had lunch at Spooky Canyon and then walked up Spooky Canyon as far as everyone wanted to go. This is a small slot canyon that you can follow all the way to the top if you bring lights and are willing to climb several pitches of 15-25 feet.
On the way out of Afton Canyon, after we finished at Spooky Canyon, we located the remains of the wooden bridge deck that had been washed about 1. miles downstream by the 1938 flood. It was replaced by the steel railroad bridge at the east end of Afton Canyon. The 1938 flood must have washed nearly into Cronise Dry Lake, because there was large debris items scattered along Basin Road much of the way back to the I-15 freeway.
Once we reached the I-15 freeway we hopped on the freeway to exit at Razor Road where we had another pit stop. On the north side of the freeway we followed the frontage road back west. This is basically the 1925 alignment of the Arrowhead Trail. We followed this paved road, or at least remnants of pavement all the way past Cronise Dry Lake. The paving here was macadam, an early form of paving which was basically heavy oil mixed with, or covering gravel. At the west end of this valley you can see where the old alignment merges with present-day I-15 to go over a saddle on the north side of Cave Mountain. We followed the cable-line road over a steep hill at this point. Some of the group had trouble making up this hill, so about half of the group returned to the freeway and met us at the Afton Canyon offramp. From Afton Canyon Road, we once again took the frontage road west to where it joined the cable-line road, which is basically the alignment of the Arrowhead Trail. The Arrowhead Trail winds back and forth across the cable road. In many places you can see old roadside markers and cut-off telephone poles that followed the Arrowhead Trail. We were able to drive stretches of this old alignment. A little west of Field Road, the old Arrowhead Trail diverges from the Cable Road and trends south to merge with the 1932 alignment of U.S. 91 about 1 . miles west of Field Road. Bob Jacoby and I share the thrill of driving these old highway alignments.
We continued on the cable-line road across the “tank” road which goes to Fort Irwin and at Alvord Mountain Road picked up Hacienda Road, the freeway frontage road, over to Harvard Road where we able to enter the freeway. This was the end of another interesting day in the Mojave. ~Nelson Miller
The 2019 Desert Protection Act Update
Breaking news from friendsoftheinyo.org The California Desert Protection and Recreation Act of 2019 (S. 67/H.R. 376) sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, both (D-CA), and Representatives Paul Cook (R-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), and Pete Aguilar (D-CA), would establish the 18,840-acre Alabama Hills National Scenic Area (AHNSA) in Inyo County for continued recreational use and add 35,292 acres to Death Valley National Park.
“We are thrilled to see the passage of a bipartisan public lands package that includes the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, a landscape with significant recreational, cultural and scenic resources. We thank our congressional champions, Senator Diane Feinstein and Congressman Paul Cook, for their years of tireless work on behalf of rural communities in the California Desert. - Jora Fogg Policy Director for Friends of the Inyo
Friends of the Inyo has been a critical partner on the bill, with leadership from with the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group. This legislative journey began with Mike Prather, an AHSG founding board member and current secretary of Friends of the Inyo, who helped craft
the first language of the bill nearly a decade ago.
The Alabama Hills National Scenic Area will be the first National Scenic Area managed as part of the National Landscape Conservation System, the nation’s newest system of protected lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
The bill now goes to the President for signature to enact it into law. Friends of the Inyo and the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group will continue work with the BLM to establish a management plan for the AHNSA. Through our ongoing partnership with Death Valley National Park we will also continue to steward and safeguard the park’s wilderness and front country areas.
For more information read the press release from our partners with the Campaign for the California Desert.
Fire and Rain in Shoshone
By Anne Stoll
So we had a great time this past weekend avoiding the Super Bowl and enjoying desert rain in Shoshone. The town is as friendly and clean as ever (compare to Baker, for the other extreme), and the whole area is even more amazingly beautiful when wet. And there was news from the Shoshone campground to share. Just over two weeks ago, they had a bad fire that truly scared everyone in town! A large, late-model fancy trailer parked there mysteriously caught fire (maybe a defective inverter, we were told). The couple who were inside at the time (yikes!) saw flames coming out of the electrical panel and fled outside to safety. Unfortunately they didn’t have time to grab the keys to their tow vehicle, a large pickup truck that soon also burned. Propane tanks were exploding, shooting flames high into the air and the trailer was engulfed in minutes. Good news, no one was hurt, the husband did grab his wallet, they have insurance and miraculously the fire did NOT spread to any other buildings! The camp host told us there were high winds that day and the embers were flying everywhere but amazingly, they hopped over the camp gathering-room and started torching the palm trees before three different volunteer fire companies arrived (from Tecopa, Pahrump and the National Park) and put multiple blazes out. Woohoo! See what we can do when we work together? ~Anne & George
When silent film actors Clara Bow (aka “The It Girl”) and Rex Bell got married in 1931, they desperately needed an escape from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. Searchlight, Nevada yielded the perfect landscape, an uninhabited desert far away from the glitz and glamour, where the couple could, at long last, live in complete solitude.
Rex and Clara’s escape was a Spanish Colonial style ranch complete with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a cactus garden on a 400,000 acre plot of arid land, located just a short ride away from the Nipton stop of the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. The ranch was named the “Walking Box Ranch” in reference to the Hollywood box cameras – nicknamed “walking box cameras” – that followed the Bells throughout their star-studded acting careers. In fact, the image of a box camera mounted on a tripod remains the ranch’s logo to this day.
Over the years, the Walking Box Ranch grew to be one of the most well-known celebrity homes in all of Nevada. During the 1930s and 40s, Rex and Clara regularly invited many of their Hollywood friends for a relaxing get-together at the ranch, including Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, and Errol Flynn. Not only was the ranch a movie star getaway, but it also operated as a functioning cattle ranch until the 1980s. The old barn, livestock corrals, and water troughs remain standing at the ranch today.
Now, long after the death of Rex and Clara, the Walking Box Ranch remains in its original form and is now listed under the National Register of Historic Places. Now run by the Bureau of Land Management and offering guided tours, everyone is invited to visit the formerly secluded getaway .~Mignon
Museum Work Party Thanks!
Thank you all for all the work that was done for the Museum Saturday! It is very much appreciated.
The electrical work and installation of the lighting fixtures by Bob, Ron and Axel was especially helpful.
Bringing over the display cases from storage, cleaning and setting them up and redoing some of the displays by Mignon and Glenn will improve visitor experiences.
Sue did a terrific job in cleaning and preparing the front office area for the shift of the credenza and then putting it all back together again.
Also thanks to Sue, Ken, Steve, David, and Board Member Phil Hara for all the work on the topo maps, inventorying and cataloging the maps.
Thanks to Ken, Glenn, and their helpers in moving the credenza and setting up the new desk area.
Thanks to Ron for putting up the Dumont sign.
Thanks to all the guys, including Museum President Brent Gaddis, in relocating the farm equipment.
Thanks to Steve for trimming the tree/bush so the Strap Iron Jail is much more visible from the street.
Thanks to Brent and Jessica for working on cleaning up in the back storage room.
Thanks to Jesus (our 14-year old volunteer) for working so hard in the yard and working on setting up the donated computers.
Thanks to Museum Secretary Christine Toppenberg for providing support.
Thanks to Pat Schoffstall, Katie Boyd, Sue, and Mignon for donuts and food.
Thanks to Glenn and Ron for donated office chairs and Glenn for a hand truck.
Thanks for all the miscellaneous tasks that got done by everyone just pitching in and getting it done!
Not to be forgotten, thanks to Scott Walker and the Walker family for allowing us to relax Saturday evening and spend the night at Paradise Springs. It was a great finish to a good day’s work!
Thank you all! ~Nelson Miller
A lovely lady from Ruchera, Zimbabwe, just for fun. She even has arm bands! This is what George and I are working on, slowly processing our images from two trips to Zimbabwe. ~ Anne Stoll
Without milkweed, there would be no Monarch Butterﬂies. They lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed and milkweed is becoming relatively scarce. Please plant milkweed and help save a species. This is the message we came away with after our visit last week to the Monarch Grove at Pismo Beach.
Sue, Ron Lipari and I enjoyed a very scenic drive up the California coast from Oxnard to Pismo Beach to see the Monarchs. We picked a glorious spring-like day and there were hundreds of Monarchs flying, bunching and mating among the eucalyptus trees. Sadly, though, there were only about a fourth as many as we had seen just the previous year. The docent at the grove explained to us that continued development and pesticide use along the coast has drastically decreased the Monarch habitat. This has been ongoing for years and the Monarch population at Pismo Grove has steadily decreased about 50% each year. Add to that the ﬁres last year and the result was an 80% reduction in only one year! The butterﬂies were just unable to ﬂy south through the burned and smoky areas.
Each year when cold weather arrives the Monarchs begin their 2500 mile migration south. It seems they come south to gather and mate. We were lucky to become voyeurs and watch a couple mating. The female (large wing veins) attracts the male (two dots on thin wing veins). They meet and/or go to the ground together to start mating where, hopefully, the female accepts the male by closing her wings. Coupling takes quite awhile, so once their abdomens are ﬁrmly attached, the happy male single-handedly carries them, coupled together, back up into the trees where they complete their mating. During mating, the female actually takes sustenance from the male and therefore may mate several times to gather enough energy to complete her task of scattering eggs, one at a time, under milkweed leaves. Her problem is ﬁnding enough milkweed.
So plant milkweed. There are many species of milkweed. To ﬁnd out what to plant in your area you can check monarchjointventure.org
Although there are several places to see Monarchs, Monarch Grove at Pismo Beach has traditionally been the largest gathering on the West coast. The optimal time to see them is usually between October and February. I would
highly recommend putting this on your “bucket list” and doing it sooner rather than later. It is a beautiful way to spend a California day. If you would like to see a short video of the grove, check out monarchbutterﬂy.org ~ Bob Jaussaud
Evening Star Mine Trip
By Ken Hemkin
I joined a small group of adventurers, September 8, 2018 to explore various parts of the Mojave National Preserve. The sites to see there are as numerous as the vast expanse of land in the preserve. One of my favorites was the Evening Star Mine.
For me, part of the joy of exploring the desert is the history. I am amazed by what folks back then did with limited resources. The Evening Star Mine is one of the best preserved mines in the MNP with the head frame and rock crushers still in place. The main shaft as well as some of the side shafts are now sealed.
It began life in 1935 as a copper prospect by John Riley Bembry. He was a World War I veteran, a medic in the US Army and also taught soldiers how to use explosives. This skill was put to good use upon arriving in the Ivanpah Mountain Range in the late 1920s. By 1930 Mr. Bembry had nine claims in the area and by the time of his death in 1984, he had placed 56 claims. Mr. Bembry’s contribution to the history of the area is amazing and well deserves its own article.
(Continue to read more, and see photos)
By Mignon Slentz
Wilderness near Salome, Arizona is where a group of us spent MLK weekend. There were members of the Desert Explorers meeting the Arizona boys who had all worked for McDonald Douglas at one time, added to high school friends of mine from Laguna Beach. Everyone took turns looking at each other’s rigs, discussing under the hood modifications and peeking inside the pop-up campers and trailers. Some participants stopped off at Quartzite first to browse the myriad of booths and stalls. On Saturday, the Arizona boys went shooting while the Desert Explorer contingent drove to the staging area off Eagle Eye Rd. to access the Harquehala Mountain Rd. The 10.5 mile steep, 4x4 and sometimes rugged road led up to the Smithsonian Observatory that was in use 1920-1925 where the sun’s rays were measured and data collected.
The Harquahala Mountains are the highest mountain range in southwestern Arizona, and are located southwest of the towns of Aguila and Wenden. The name originated from the Yavapai ‘.Hakhe:la”, which means “running water.” The last night in camp, those
of us remaining sat around the fire watching the lunar eclipse. ~Mignon